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parts, see Apoc. REV. n. 424, 430. The land of Egypt was covered with grievous darkness, Exod. x. darkness is also spoken of in the Revelation, chap. viii. 12: darkness signifies falses, arising either from ignorance, or from false principles in religion, or from evils of life, see APOC. REV. n. 110, 413, 695. The Egyptians, it is written, perished at last in the Red Sea, Exod. xiv. in the Revelation it is said, that the dragon and false prophet perished in the lake of fire and brimstone, chap. xix. 20, chap. xx. 10: both the Red Sea and that lake signify hell. The reason why the same circumstances are mentioned of Egypt and of the church, whose consummation and end are described in the Revelation, is, because by Egypt a church is meant, which in its beginning was of superior excellence, wherefore Egypt, before its church came to devastation, is compared with the garden of Eden, and with the garden of Jehovah, Gen. xiii. 10, Ezek. xxxi. 8, 9; and is also called the corner-stone of the tribes, the son of the wise, and of ancient kings, Isaiah xix. 11, 13. More may be seen on the subject of Egypt in its primeval state and in its state of devastation, in the APOC. REV. n. 503.
IV. THAT FAITH IMPUTATIVE OF THE MERIT
CHRIST WAS NOT KNOWN IN THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH, WHICH PRECEDED THE COUNCIL OF NICE, NEITHER IS IT DECLARED OR SIGNIFIED IN ANY PART OF THE WORD.
636. The church preceding the council of Nice, which was called the Apostolic church, was of considerable magninitude, extending to three of the quarters of the globe, as appears from the territories of the Emperor Constantine the Great, who was a Christian, and zealous in favour of reli
* By the extreme parts here spoken of, are meant the extreme parts of the life of man, such, as belong to the sensual nature, which being possessed by falses, are closed up thereby against all admission of heavenly light, and thus become filthy and infernal,[See Apoc. REV.]
gion, and whose empire not only embraced the countries of Europe, since divided into several kingdoms, but also extended over many regions bordering upon Europe; so that, as was observed above, he convoked the bishops of Asia, Africa, and Europe, to his palace at Nice, a city of Bithynia, in order to purge his empire of the scandalous doctrines of Arius. This was done of the Divine Providence of the Lord, since, if the Lord's Divinity be denied, the Christian church expires, and becomes like a monument adorned with this epitaph, "Here the church lies buried." The church which existed before this period, was called Apostolic, its distinguished writers were styled fathers, and the true Christians that composed it, brethren. That this church did not acknowledge three divine persons, nor consequently a Son of God from eternity, but only a Son of God born in time, is plain from the creed received in that church, and thence called Apostolic, or the Apostles' Creed, where it is said, "I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, &c. 1 believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, &c." Here it is evident that no other Son of God was acknowledged but what was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary; nor is there any mention made of a Son of God born from eternity. This creed, like the two others, hath been received down to the present times as purely catholic, by the whole Christian church.
637. That in those primitive times all Christians throughout the world acknowledged that the Lord Jesus Christ was God, to whom all power was given in heaven and earth, and who had power over all flesh, according to His own express words, Matt. xxviii. 18, John xvii. 7; and that they believed in Him, according to the command which He delivered to them from God the Father, John iii. 15, 16, 36, chap. vi.
40, chap. xi. 25, 26; is also very evident from the circumstance of the Emperor Constantine the Great, convening all bishops, for the purpose of refuting and condemning, from the Sacred Scriptures, the heresy of Arius and his adherents, who denied the Divinity of the Lord the Saviour, born of the virgin Mary: this indeed they effected, but whilst endeavouring to avoid a wolf, they fell into the jaws of a lion; or, according to the proverb, wishing to shun Charybdis they became a prey to Scylla: for by inventing the fiction of a Son of God from eternity, who descended and assumed a Humanity, they imagined that they should vindicate and re-establish the Lord's Divinity; not knowing that God Himself, the Creator of the universe, descended that He might become a Redeemer, and thus a Creator anew, according to these plain declarations in the Old Testament: Isaiah xxv. 9, xl. 3, 5, 10, 11, xliii. 24, xliv. 6, 24, xlvii. 4, xlviii. 17, xlix. 7, 26, lx. 16, lxiii. 16, Jer. 1. 33, Hos. xiii. 4, Psalm xix. 15: to which may be added, John ix. 15.
638. That Apostolic church, in consequence of worshipping the Lord God Jesus Christ, and God the Father in Him at the same time, may be likened to the garden of God; and Arius, who arose at that time, to the serpent sent from hell; and the council of Nice, to the wife of Adam, who offered the fruit to her husband, and persuaded him to eat it; after which they appeared to themselves naked, and covered their nakedness with fig-leaves; by their nakedness is meant the innocence which they before possessed, and by fig-leaves the truths of the natural man, which were successively falsified. That primitive church may also be compared with the dawn of day and with the morning in its progression to the tenth hour, when a thick cloud intervened, and continued till the evening came, and then the night, at which time the moon arose, whose light, appearing to some, gave them a partial illustration of the Word, while the rest went on even to midnight darkness, till they could see
nothing of Divinity in the Lord's Humanity, notwithstanding the declaration of Paul, "That in Jesus Christ dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily," Coloss. ii. 9; and of John, “That the Son of God sent into the world is the true God and eternal Life," 1 Epist. v. 20, 21. The primitive or Apostolic church could never have conceived that a church would succeed, which should worship several gods with the heart, and one with the lips; which should separate charity from faith; the remission of sins from repentance and application to newness of life; and which should maintain a total impotence in spiritual things; and least of all, that an Arius should lift up his head, and when dead rise again, and reign, though clandestinely, to the end.
639. That a faith imputative of Christ's merit was never meant in the Word, may appear plain from this circumstance, that such a faith was never known in the church until the council of Nice introduced the doctrine of three divine persons from eternity; and when this faith was once introduced, and had overspread the whole Christian world, all other faith was rejected, and shut up in darkness; so that whosoever under such circumstances reads the Word, and sees mention made of faith, of imputation, and of the merit of Christ, naturally falls into that notion, which he imagines to be the only one; just like a person who, on reading one page of a book, there stops, without turning over to see what is said on the other side: or like one who having persuaded himself of the truth of some particular opinion, notwithstanding it be false, and having confirmed that alone, afterwards sees the false as true, and the true as false, who would deride and hiss at every one that should pretend to oppose his favourite notion, and would call him fool; for his mind wholly immersed in such persuasion, acquires a callous covering, which rejects as heterodox whatsoever doth not square with his orthodox opinions, so called; his memory too is like a piece of paper, with this single ruling
point of theology written all over it so as not to admit of the insertion of any thing else, wherefore if any thing else enters, he casts it out as the foaming mouth casts out its froth. Tell a confirmed naturalist, for instance, who believes either that nature created herself, or that God was extant after nature, or that nature and God are one, that the truth is directly contrary, and he will consider you either as deluded by the fabulous devices of the clergy, or as a person of a simple mind, or of a slow understanding, or as one who has lost his senses. The case is the same with all other opinions fixed by persuasion and confirmation; they appear at length like painted tapestry fastened with many nails to a wall which has been put together with crumbling stones.
V. THAT AN IMPUTATION OF THE MERIT AND RighTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST IS IMPOSSIBLE.
640. In order to know that the imputation of the merit and righteousness of Christ is impossible, it is necessary to know what His merit and righteousness are. The merit of our Lord the Saviour is redemption, the nature and quality of which are described above, n. 114 to 133, where it is shewn, that it consisted in the subjugation of the hells, the orderly arrangement of the heavens, and the subsequent restoration of the church: thus that redemption was a work purely divine. In the same place it was also shewn, that by redemption the Lord took to Himself the power of regenerating and saving all such as believe in Him, and do His commandments; and that without redemption no flesh could have been saved. If then redemption was a work purely divine, a work of the Lord alone, and if this constitutes His merit, it follows, that it can no more be applied, ascribed, or imputed to any man, than the creation and preservation of the universe; for redemption was a kind of creation of the angelic heaven anew, and also of the church. That the present church ascribes this merit of the Lord the Redeemer to those who by grace have obtained faith, is plain from